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June 9, 2005

Sea Chanty Festival

Liverpool Echo (UK):

Liverpool, home of the sea shanty according to many historians - is also becoming home to the number one Mersey Sea Shanty Festival. This year's festival is the ninth and will be running from tomorrow until Sunday. Festival director Jack Coutts - who has planned this year's event with fellow performer Bernie Davis - says the event is now considered to be one of Europe's best.

"The one organised in Breton compares well but the Bretons know how to enjoy themselves," he says. As it happens, the Bretons are sending their own group Les Pirates to the Liverpool festival. The group has appeared at the Liverpool festival before but with a different line-up, not surprisingly as they consist of ten to 12-year-olds. "The singers change from year to year but they dress up like sailors unlike the rest of us grown-ups," says Coutts.. "That's something you do when you are young."

Dressed up or not, this year's festival features singing groups from across Europe. Whether they are genuine shanty singers remains a moot point. Coutts suggest that shanties were born in Liverpool, from sailors on ocean-going ships. Today's shanty singers comes from different backgrounds including fishing people. And the sounds can be very different.Italy's La Moresca Antica, for example, has a leader who for many years was into heavy metal rock but later discovered Renaissance classical musical. Now he has become intrigued by the song of the fishermen.

Making their first appearance in Liverpool will be an Estonian group Vaikeste Lootspillide, the first East European group to feature in the festival. On Friday the Estonian singers will be at Birkenhead Pacific Road Arts Centre at 7.30pm. The big event is over the weekend at the Albert Dock where for two days there will be singers everywhere.

Posted by acapnews at June 9, 2005 12:06 AM